Aug 25, 2022

Pressure Proof with Daniel Stewart: The OH NO Plan

USEA/ Olivia Airhart photo

We’ve spent the summer discussing different ways to overcome the kind of things that can overwhelm you and more specifically the three different plans you can use to control your emotions when they risk taking control of you. The plans we’ve discussed so far all fall under the category of pre-ride routines and they include the "normal plan" (routines you do pre-ride when everything goes according to plan), the "quickie plan" (routines you do pre-ride when you’re late or rushed) and the "hurry-up-and-wait plan" (routines you do pre-ride when encountering a delay). Your brain craves the perception of control and anything that breaks that perception, including rushing or delays, can often lead to feelings of fears, frustrations, doubt, disappointment, pressure, and panic. The role of these plans is to simply give your brain the perception of control that it so badly craves.

This month’s Pressure Proof tip falls under the routine category, but not of the pre-ride variety. I like to call this month’s tip the OH NO plan and it doesn’t happen before an event like the others. It happens during it- as in “Oh no I lost a stirrup/pulled a rail/forgot my course!" As you’ve already guessed, the OH NO plan is a routine you'll use when you encounter an unexpected challenge in the middle of a ride; like between fences three and four, questions eight and nine, or as you enter at A. For this reason, this plan is called a prime-ride-ritual because it occurs in the prime of the ride.

Like all routines, the idea behind the OH NO plan is that you can’t predict problems, but you can prepare for them. Plan your ride & ride your plan is a common phrase often associated with this kind of routine and one that’s especially important in the prime of the ride because unexpected problems can so quickly derail your train of thought.

So what happens when your train of thought jumps the track? What happens when you’re doing everything right but it still goes wrong? You’re having an amazing ride but your handy horse uncharacteristically refuses a fence and you end up on his neck? What happens when you encounter an unexpected challenge such as losing your stirrup, a surprise like your horse losing a shoe, or disappointment like losing your memory mid-course? Well, this is the time for your OH NO plan - a pre-defined routine that begins every time you hear yourself saying, “Oh no” or “Oh my gosh” or whatever other four-letter word you come up with! The good news is that while you might lose your stirrup, shoe, or memory, this kind of plan will keep you from losing your mind.

As you can imagine, the OH NO plan needs to be really quick because you’ve only got a second or two to figure out how to act and react to the challenge. This means that it needs to be committed to memory before you ride so it’s ready to go when you are. Sadly, you probably just won’t have the time to come up with any good options in the heat of the moment.

So what kind of plan can help keep you from losing your mind after you’ve lost your focus? Well, perhaps something as simple as repeating “shake it off" while shanking your shoulders and scratching your horse or taking a deep breath while saying “rest-of-the-ride-best-of-the-ride” at the same time as patting your horse. While these actions and reactions might seem small, you might just be surprised at what a big difference they can make.

So this month create your very own OH NO plan, memorize it, and be prepared to use it because sooner or later you’re going to bump into an unexpected surprise, challenge, or disappointment. The good news is that this is exactly the kind of routine that will help you to hold it together when it would be normal to fall apart!

I hope you enjoyed this month’s tip and the three other pre-ride routines I spoke about earlier this summer. Give them all a try and if you’d ever like to teach equestrian sport psychology classes, clinics or seminars just let me know! I’m hosting my next instructor certification class in Florida this November. Visit Pressure Proof Academy or email me for more info!

Feb 01, 2023 Profile

Rescue Horse Runaway Romeo Finds His Calling

Amanda Walker wasn’t sure what she’d gotten herself into when she went to try Runaway Romeo as a potential sales project in 2018. The gelding was a bit bigger than Walker was looking for and was quite pushy coming out of the stall. When she got on, it didn’t get much better.

Jan 31, 2023 Educational Activities

USEA's Tip Tuesday: Cross-Country Positions with Karen O'Connor

For seasoned and novice riders alike, it is always good to revisit the basics. Serving as the foundation for any eventer, the positions used on the cross-country course differ from those in the dressage or show jumping ring. The USEA tuned into five-time Olympian, three-time World Equestrian Games rider, two Pan-American Games rider, and USEA ECP certified coach Karen O'Connor as she walked coaches and students at the USEA ECP Symposium through the basic positions for effective cross-country riding.

Jan 30, 2023

USEF New Phone and Fax Number

The USEF's main phone number and fax number have changed. We wanted to notify you so you continue to get the support you need.

Jan 30, 2023 Instructors

USEA Podcast #327: All About the Eventing Coaches Program

With the recent wrap-up of the 2023 Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) Symposium in Ocala, Florida, USEA Podcast Host Nicole Brown chats with ECP Faculty Members Jennifer Howlett Rousseau and Robin Walker about all things related to the ECP. From the USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels to the benefits of pursuing certification, selecting the best coach for you, recapping this year's Symposium, and more - this week's USEA podcast is the perfect educational tool for coaches and riders alike!

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